November 18, 2017

President Bush

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In the Spotlight Profiles George Bush recently opined that “Public speaking is very easy.” Yet when I listen to our President expound on military “strategery,” or the current trade imbalance (“The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country”), I am struck by the importance and difficulty of articulate expression.

I know many bright individuals who struggle to express themselves well. Yet more and more our ability to succeed professionally can be traced to our ability to express ourselves in an articulate way. Like it or not, people judge us initially based on how we speak and what we say. Most people assume our President is not very bright because of the way he speaks. An unfair judgment in my mind, but a popular one.

The point here is not to denigrate the President. However, his strengths get lost when he tells us that a “tax cut is one of the anecdotes coming out of an economic illness.” The less comfortable you are with verbal expression, the more critical your Narrative becomes.

Any President’s Narrative will be carefully crafted with a tightly controlled message. But this White House is keeping Dubya fully-scripted and on a short leash these days. When the President is well-scripted, he gets passing grades. When he is given the keys to the car with no curfew, trouble seems to follow. Thus we see little Q&A.

The lesson here for business leaders is that not everyone speaks brilliantly. Self-awareness is important when it comes to minimizing the impact of your weaknesses. Nonetheless, eloquence remains a powerful tool. It comes naturally for some, but requires work for most. The importance of verbal expression has never been greater.

> Beacon Issue – April 2003

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